From Jessica Chastain's high-profile performance as the woman who tracked down Osama bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" to Emilie Dequenne's little talked about turn in Joachim Lafosse's heart-wrenching "Our Children" (which is also Film Comment's #1 Undistributed film), it was a year of dynamic, strong women, as well as those that have been broken.
Daniel Day-Lewis' masterful performance in "Lincoln" will not be soon forgotten, nor will Joaquin Phoenix's woebegone stray Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master." One of the most vividly disturbing performances comes from Australia's "The Snowtown Murders"; Daniel Henshall's portrait of real-life murderer John Bunting is painfully good.
In addition to the singular standouts, several duos delivered exceptional symbiotic performances; Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts in Jacques Audiard's gritty love story of broken individuals, "Rust and Bone"; Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant in Michael Haneke's unflinching look at death, "Amour"; Kacey Mottet Klein and Lea Seydoux as a lost, lonely family in Ursula Meier's "Sister"; and Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg as a bethrothed couple at odds with their own natures and that of the Georgian wilderness in Julia Loktev's "The Loneliest Planet."
Check out the trailers featuring these performances below.
Emilie Dequenne, "Our Children"
Daniel Henshall, "The Snowtown Murders"
Mads Mikkelson, "The Hunt" (interview)
Rachel Mwanza, "War Witch"
Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"